Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday March 19, 2008
Did You Notice? â€¦ There's a difference between the problems faced by Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray, both of whom have had disastrous seasons. Mears' issues have been partially based on overaggression. He crashed at Daytona making the wrong move at the wrong time going for the lead, then again at Bristol when he smashed into leader Denny Hamlin while trying to get his lap back. How much can you fault a driver for going overboard, giving it all he's got? Then again, is three wrecks in five weeks too much? That's the question for Hendrick moving forward.
On the other hand, McMurray's barely had a sniff of the Top 20 all season long, with a program that's now in its third season. The car he's driving has led two laps; his teammates have combined to lead 275. In the past, Roush Fenway has made crew chief changes to fix the problems within McMurray's program; now, McMurray is with a team he's handpicked. Of course, things couldn't be more different in Mears' case; it's his first season with a "new" team after being moved over to make room for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Those things take time to gel.
When you look at things from that perspective, to me McMurray is the one on much thinner ice.
Did You Notice? â€¦ That while Regan Smith has struggled after being directly separated from Mark Martin's tutelage and support, Aric Almirola has shined. After sitting on the sidelines for the first four races this season, Almrola finished 8th at Bristol to give the No. 8 car its best finish of 2008 - beating any of Martin's performances to date.
In the meantime, Smith - in charge of his own ride at the DEI stable - has seen his team fall outside the Top 35 in points after a 26th place performance at Bristol. If there's any doubt as to how valuable sharing a ride with a veteran like Mark Martin can be - even though it means you run part-time - just look at these stats. Of course, Smith can certainly still turn to Martin for support; they're on the same team. But sharing a ride with a mentor and having one next door are two different things; and right now, Smith is looking like he needed at least another year of tender lovin' care.
On a side note, I wonder if it's good for a guy like Doug Richert - admittedly "old school" - to work with a rookie like Smith. Not only is there the generation gap in play, but Richert is a guy who's used to immediate success; after all, he won a title with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in just his second year driving the Cup Series. Smith is more of a long-term projectâ€¦ can Richert both adapt and develop that long-term mentality? Based on what I've seen and heard to date, I don't quite know if that's happening.
Did You Notice? â€¦ That when it rains, it pours â€¦ literally. I mention this misstep because the Woods said it was a mutual decision for Elliott to switch off and do the race at Martinsville instead of Bristol. We all know the fallout from that; Jeff Green was hired to sub, but when qualifying didn't happen, the No. 21 missed the race because they were too low in owner points (of course, if Elliott were there, rainout rules would have put the 1988 champion automatically in the starting field). Now, the Woods are in even more serious trouble.
Here's the issue. I don't know about you, but I'm a big forecasting buff â€¦ and the weather at Bristol consistently said "rain" for about five days last week. Now, if you're a team like the Wood Brothers, and you're behind the eight ball - knowing you have to make races in order to jump inside the Top 35 - why in the world would you let Bill Elliott switch his Bristol date to drive when it's a guaranteed spot in the field for your car if qualifying gets rained out? Why would they even take the chance that rain would knock you out? Shouldn't someone be looking at the weather each morning? It's these types of common sense decisions that start leading programs to their demise.
Let me throw something else out there; right now, there are just 46 full-time teams competing, with one of those cars the vastly underfunded Front Row Motorsports operation - and heading to Martinsville, there are three rookies driving for cars outside the Top 35. Racing at a track with a low car count - and one that's consistently tough on rookies - why in the world would you need Elliott to race there? I still don't get it. In my view, this team voluntarily shot themselves in the foot.
Did You Notice? â€¦ That with the retirement of Dale Jarrett, as of Martinsville there will not be a single driver over 50 who's made every race this season. In fact, just three 50-somethings remain on the docket overall : 52-year-old Ken Schrader (driving for single car BAM Racing), 52-year-old Bill Elliott (part-time), and 50-year-old Mike Skinner (temporary fill-in for A.J. Allmendinger). Let's even take this one step further; right now, there's just two 40-somethings in the Top 25 in Cup points - Jeff Burton (40) and Bobby Labonte (43).
Need any more proof as to how NASCAR's become a sport for the young? Somewhere, Harry Gant's holding a day of mourning.
Did You Notice? â€¦ The high quality of drivers outside of the Top 12 in Cup points? This week, it's particularly important, because as we've mentioned before here on DYN, history tells us 76% of those in Chase spots five races in wind up making the postseason field.
That means that, barring some statistical anomaly, nine of the following twelve men will be punching a Chase ticket: Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Martin Truex, Jr.
No question, that's one solid group; but check out the four drivers immediately behind them, veterans that will try to push their way in during the coming months:
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards.
Those are four men from arguably the three most powerful organizations in the sport this decade; and yet, one will likely be locked out of the playoffs if history is our guide. Right now, that man looks to be Hamlin; with the sour luck from his 2007 Chase continuing into this season, the No. 11 car has already been involved in two wrecks and a fuel pickup problem. Considering his teammates have already left him a distant third, it seems like Hamlin's going to have a much tougher time making up the gap than the others on this list. You'd have to assume Hendrick will get themselves together â€¦ right?
Did You Notice? â€¦ That with the release of Johnny Sauter after just five races, the Phoenix Racing Nationwide Series program will once again fail to keep a driver for more than one full season? The last time the team had any sort of consistency year-to-year was with Jimmy Spencer, who drove the Yellow Transportation-sponsored car during 2001 and 2002. For a team that's had multiple crew chief switches, as well, you wonder whether any driver can turn around that program.
Did You Notice? â€¦ That of the 35 cars locked in to qualifying at Martinsville, just two of them are single car teams. Of the 11 full-time cars not locked in to qualifying at Martinsville, five of them are single car teams.
At this point, it appears "extinction" for the one-car program isn't a matter of if â€¦ it's a matter of when.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Tom – Perhaps you missed it, but Casey was NOT racing to get his lap back. He was hit by Denny who was hit by Juan who WAS racing to get his lap back. That wreck had nothing whatsover to do with Casey except for the fact that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In regard to the Wood Brothers issue, I wonder if they were taking into consideration that Dale Jarrett would be running at Bristol but not at Martinsville, as DJ’s championship is more recent and trumps Bill’s if both drivers fail to qualify on speed. Whatever the reasoning, it certainly dug them an even deeper hole than they were already in.
I don’t know what the exact limit is, but a past champion has to be on the books some number of days ahead of time (> one week if I remember correctly).
I defy anyone to explain a rationale for the Wood Brothers having to miss any races at all because of the top 35 rule . One of the great teams in the history of racing having to sit out races , and waste time on inventive ways to qualify , instead of being allowed to simply race . NASCAR owes a huge debt to teams like the Woods . They, and teams like them, built NASCAR . People like Brian only inherited the the fruits of their efforts . The top 35 rule was created by the rocket scientist minds at NASCAR for one purpose . So that no major sponsor would have their feelings hurt by having to go home when their team failed to qualify . It also has a lot to do with future franchise ideas .
With the good finish by Aric Almirola , maybe the problem with the 8 car was JR. and not the car . Truth is , Aric has shown great talent for a long time on the short tracks , just needed the big break . And as we all remember he was just as fast in the Busch race last year until having to give up his seat to Hamlin halfway through the race . I think we’ll hear a lot more from him in the future .
To: Fran D.
Thanks for your insightful comments. What you say is true … but at the same time, Mears was racing Montoya to get the Lucky Dog pass. At that point, the caution was imminent, but he didn’t slow down … even though passing Montoya was a longshot, at best. He was still going at full speed, hoping he’d get lucky and Montoya would slow down too much when the yellow flag came out. Instead, Montoya hit Hamlin, Hamlin hit Mears, and we know what happened from there. But if Mears had slowed for the yellow, the wall damage wouldn’t have been so severe. He had to go behind the wall for repairs because of the speed at which he HIT the wall.
In one sense, you can’t fault Mears for not slowing down. Every racer has a competitive desire to finish as high as possible, and the Lucky Dog at the time could have proved critical to seriously helping Mears’ finish. Sometimes, though, that aggression comes back to bite you … and it did in this case.
I think in your over 40 group you forgot Mikey W.
Definitely one of the saddest stories this year has to be the troubles of the lengendary Woods Brothers. A solution to their problem would be to merge with another legendary but unsponsored, Yates Ford team. This would allow them to put their sponsor onto cars guaranteed to be in the field. With terrible start of the #21 car this year it is pretty unlikely that they will break into the top 35 and how long will their sponsors stay aboard?
The Woods are racing history. Let them take their place in it and leave the sport with some grace. Life moves on.
Not to sound like the Emperor from Star Wars…But Wood Brothers, “You will pay the price for your lack of vision!”
They have no one to blame but themselves for all but falling out of Nascar completely and becoming irrelevant. Way before the top 35 rule was ever instituted and back when they were a STRONG team, right before their very eyes they saw the sea change taking place in Nascar from single car teams to multicar behemoths. The fact that they refused to even try to ever become a multicar team (or if they did, which I do not recall, there is no reason for them to fail)was their Waterloo. All those years they could have easily had a second or a third car making rcaes under the old system so that when the top 35 rule hit, they would have been secure.
But they chose to go old school route, and in todays Nascar, just ask MMR what it is like sticking to your guns and refusing to adjust and evolve.
Mike , if only the Woods had known that the answer to every problem was to spend millions of dollars they didn’t have so they would have
Mark, I never said it was easy, and I am no tsaying they should be doing this NOW, but the Wood Bros had only what… DECADES to figure it out and already be a multicar team WAY before this top 35 rule came into effect? And back in the early 2000’s and late 90’s, though still expensive, the cost of a full time sponsor was nowhere near what it is now. They should have made it happen and they didn’t. They have earned it and deserve to suck now and fall into Nascar obscurity.
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